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It’s now up to legislators to protect Florida’s schools and students

TALLAHASSEE — As the governor releases his state budget recommendations for 2021-2022, the Florida Education Association is looking ahead to the legislative session and what needs to happen for our students, educators and public schools. 

“We realize that this is going to be a tight budget year, but now is not the time to divert any funding from our public schools,” said FEA President Andrew Spar. “Our state must continue to invest in public schools, and to invest in our students and the teachers and support staff who serve them. When the pandemic struck, educators stood in the gap and overcame tremendous obstacles to meet students’ needs. Now our lawmakers need to step up and not only protect but enhance funding for our public schools.  For the good of our state and our students, public education must be well-positioned as we start coming out of this pandemic.”

Pre-pandemic, Florida’s public schools had already suffered decades of underfunding. Now, as we work to come out of this dark period, a return to normal is not good enough.

In normal times, too many students have been left behind by underfunded and under-resourced classrooms and by a system created by state politicians that placed more value on student test scores than on true teaching and learning. We have struggled with severe shortages of the teachers and education staff professionals necessary to meet students’ needs.

Now is the time for a great reset for public education in Florida, for a new normal that serves all of our students. The Legislature must step up and fully fund our public schools.

Beyond continued investment in public schools, students and educators, FEA is advocating this session for legislators to, among other actions:

  • Help address the ongoing teacher shortage by allowing teachers to earn multi-year contracts.
  • Protect the Florida Retirement System without burdening employees with additional costs.
  • Pause the high stakes associated with state testing for at least two years.
  • Allow locally elected school boards more control over their own districts.

“Our state has long tied the hands of local districts to set appropriate funding priorities based on the needs of the students and the people who serve them,” President Spar said. “When there’s not a lot of money, flexibility matters.”

CONTACT: Joni Branch, joni.branch@floridaea.org

The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with 150,000 members. FEA represents PreK-12 teachers, educational staff professionals, higher education faculty and graduate assistants, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers, and retired education employees. Connect with FEA on Facebook, Twitter and at https://feaweb.org.

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